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Summer 2019 Internship Opportunities

Research opportunities with faculty members on campus, as well as with non-profit organizations off campus, are listed below. See application instructions and a link to the Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE) here. The final deadline for submitting applications is March 8, 2019. Research must begin no later than June 24, 2019 and last at least eight weeks.


American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)

Valuing energy use in real estate listings
Would the presence of energy efficiency information in real estate listings affect buyers’ decision-making? How much would homeowners value energy efficiency relative to other attributes? Could this value change, based on the metric that is used to measure efficiency? The ACEEE Behavior and Human Dimensions Program conducts research on energy efficiency from a behavioral perspective and will be examining these questions through a combination of research and experimentation. The intern may be asked to conduct background literature reviews, interviews with real estate experts, realtors, and homebuyers in order to inform the design and implementation of a discrete choice experiment. The intern would assist with this project and others conducted by the Behavior and Human Dimensions program. Experience, skills or knowledge in psychology or behavioral science would be preferred but not required. A keen interest in learning, a strong work ethic and an interest in the topic area required. As a part of the program, the intern will learn and strengthen their research skills. The study will be published by ACEEE in 2020 with the goal of informing real estate professionals and policy makers of the value of home energy efficiency metrics. This internship is located in Washington, D.C. and will last 10 weeks.

Jose Avalos (CBE/ACEE)

Biotechnology for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Manufacturing
Several opportunities exist to carry out original research in the area of biotechnology to address challenges in energy and the environment.  The intern(s) will work on developing microbial strains (yeast or bacteria) to genetically engineer their metabolisms for the production of biofuels or chemicals.  This will involve assembling metabolic pathways for the biosynthesis of products of interest and deleting genes for enzymes that compete with the pathway of interest.  Interns may be involved in developing or applying genetically encoded biosensors to monitor the metabolic activity of cells and facilitate high throughput strain screening.  They may also be involved in constructing optogenetic circuits to dynamically control fermentations with light.  Interns will carry out microbial fermentations, and analyze products with chromatography.

Minjie Chen (ELE/ACEE) and Barry Rand (ELE/ACEE)

Design and Fabrication of Flexible Magnetic Components for Power Electronics
Power electronics are conventionally manufactured with rigid electronic components which are not stretchable or bendable. In this project, we plan to develop a novel type of soft magnetic components that can open new opportunities for power electronics applications, including soft robotics and flexible electronic systems. Students will design and fabricate a few different types of soft magnetic components, and optimize the performance of the soft magnetic components across a wide range of frequencies and operating conditions.

Climate Central

The “Climate Matters” program at Climate Central provides localized information to TV meteorologists across the U.S. for on-air use to inform their viewers about climate-change related topics. During 2018, the Climate Matters team developed an online tool that provides daily forecasts of wind and solar electricity generation for individual media markets, using data on actual installed capacity and weather forecasts.  The intern will extend the tool’s capabilities and enhance the tool’s user experience.  Internship activities will include: updating underlying databases used by the wind/solar forecasting tool; designing extended functionalities for the tool and writing code to implement these; conducting analysis to assess accuracy of forecasts; and assisting the production team with enhancing the tool’s user interface and user experience.  The current version of the tool may be accessed here:

Qualifications: Engineering or science major with good computer programming skills; Facility required with some or all of the following: python, DJango, Amazon Web Server, and managing relational databases (especially using PostgreSQL). Also helpful though not required:  Familiarity with geographic information system file formats and/or knowledge of solar PV and wind electricity generation technology and fundamentals.

The internship will be for 10 weeks, starting on a mutually agreed date in late May or early June. The location of the internship will be Climate Central Princeton’s headquarters at One Palmer Square in Princeton.

Sujit S. Datta (CBE)

Using polymer solutions for water remediation
Polymer solutions show promise for removing trapped non-aqueous contaminants from groundwater aquifers. However, it is still unclear how to design polymers that are environmentally friendly and effective. The goal of this project is to use 3D visualization to see how polymers of different molecular structures flow through a porous medium and potentially help remove a trapped non-wetting fluid.

Yiguang Ju (MAE)

Development of fire resistant high energy density cathode materials for lithium ion battery
The project is to develop a concentration-gradient cathode materials for lithium ion batteries using precision ion doping. The effect of ion doping and concentration gradient on electro-chemical performance and thermal stability will be investigated. The high temperature ignition characteristics of synthesized cathode materials with electrolytes will be characterized by using a micro-flow reactor. 

Egemen Kolemen (MAE/ACEE/PPPL)

Machine learning approach to understanding the underlying principles of fusion reactions to optimize
Fusion is a complicated phenomena that is hard to simulate with current approaches. We are developing machine learning techniques to use the immense amounts of data that are gathered in experimental fusion reactors to make models. The aim is then to optimize these reactions. The student working on this project will learn machine learning tools and apply them to large fusion data sets.

Barry Rand (ELE/ACEE) 

Sub-bandgap absorption setup for photovoltaic materials 
Photothermal deflection spectroscopy (PDS) is a powerful tool to characterize very weak sub-bandgap optical absorption. Using PDS we aim to study charge transfer (CT) state absorption of organic donor-acceptor blends, and defect states of photovoltaic absorbers such as metal halide perovskites, crucial charge generation and voltage losses. In this project, the student will help configure a PDS setup. The work will include aligning the optical components and laser beams, setting up the position sensitive detector and configuring the data acquisition program. Finally, absorption measurements will be done on some archetypal systems to benchmark the setup.

Z. Jason Ren (CEE/ACEE)

The Water Energy Technologies (WET) lab invites interns to be involved in research in recovering energy from wastewater and CO2 using artificial photosynthesis. 

Greg Scholes (CHM)

Perform synthesis and characterization of a new photocatalyst. Photocatalysts absorb light and apply the energy from light to a chemical reaction. The photocatalyst will be characterized by electronic absorption (UV-vis) spectroscopy, 1H NMR, cyclic voltammetry, spectroelectrochemistry, steady-state emission spectroscopy and transient absorption spectroscopy. Evaluate excited-state electron transfer and energy transfer of a photocatalyst. Photocatalysts absorb light and apply the energy from light to a chemical reaction. The energy level of an excited state of a photocatalyst will be determined using organic dyes and transient absorption spectroscopy. Light-activated electron transfer will be investigated with a photocatalyst and a series of electron acceptor molecules.

Alexander Smits (MAE)

Energy Harvesting
There is a tremendous amount of energy to extract within our oceans, and recent advances in flow over flexible membranes bring new promise to energy harvesting efforts. This summer, we intend to explore the capability of an unsteady propulsor extracting the unsteady fluid energy generated downstream of a bluff body. The work will require design, experimental construction, data analysis, and scientific communication.

A new method for hydrodynamic propulsion
Recently, our research has shown that unsteady propulsors which mimic swimmers like tuna and dolphin are a viable option for fast and efficient hydrodynamic propulsion. This summer we plan to scale-up these experiments and try and build a swimming vessel using these propulsion techniques. The work will be heavy in design and construction, require data analysis and scientific communication.


Howard Stone (MAE)

Electrochemical capacitors are energy storage devices that are used for applications involving rapid charging / discharging. Recently, special type of electrochemical capacitors are gaining interest that involve flowable electrodes. In this project, student will perform experiments and modeling of these new type of capacitor.

Sundar Sundaresan (CBE)

Acetone-water-sodium chloride phase diagram and salt separation process design
The produced water from fracking wells tend to be so rich in salt concentration that reverse osmosis is not a viable approach to water recovery. In this project, we envision using acetone as an anti-solvent to remove most of the salt from the water as precipitates. The recovered water-acetone mixture can then be separated using distillation, so that the acetone can be reused. In the project, we would like to determine the phase diagram for the acetone-water-sodium chloride system, and perform experiments to assess if there are usual challenges to the precipitation process. We will then seek a process design which integrates the precipitation and distillation process and perform a techno-economic analysis. (CBE juniors can work on this project in the summer and expand on it as a senior thesis project in 2019-20, if they wish to.)

Elke Weber (PSY/ACEE/WWS)

About the lab: The Behavioral Science for Policy Lab (BSPL), directed by Professor Elke Weber, connects the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment with the Woodrow Wilson School for Public Policy and the Psychology Department. As an interdisciplinary lab, BSPL brings together researchers with varied backgrounds in order to shed light on the psychological foundations of real-world decisions, with a focus on issues related to energy and the environment. Two different internships are available for Summer 2019:

Rapid Switch
In this position, the intern will work on a major project focused on the deep and rapid decarbonization of India and the United States. The intern will assist in research efforts to model perceptions of and responses to energy policy and system change, and identify behavioral barriers to decarbonization. Depending on the intern’s skills and interests, they will gain expertise in the planning, design, and execution of large-scale cross-cultural research projects, data analysis using R, and the writing of research reports and scientific papers through close collaboration with BSPL postdocs and research staff. Some exposure to or experience with behavioral science research is preferred but not necessary. The internship will start in late May and last 8 weeks.

Smarter social networks project
In this position, the intern will work on a large-scale social network project, using an innovative platform that allows experimenters to test network hypotheses generated by theoretical models and traditional lab- and field-based studies. Using this platform, the project investigates how social network structure and the filtering and interpretative actions of the nodes affect communication and behavior, and what implications this has for energy and environmental decision-making. Depending on the intern’s skills and interests, they will gain expertise in the planning, design, and execution of large-scale research projects, network models, data analysis using R, and the writing of research reports and scientific papers through close collaboration with BSPL postdocs and research staff. Some exposure to or experience with behavioral science research is preferred but not necessary. The internship will start in late May and last 8 weeks.

Claire White (CEE/ACEE)

The materials science of sustainable cements and materials for CO2 capture
Concrete, the 2nd most used substance on earth after water, is responsible for 5-8% of all human-made CO2 emissions. Prof. White’s research group is focused on developing new sustainable concrete by understanding and optimizing the sub-micron processes (i.e., reactions) occurring in conventional and alternative cements. Moreover, the ability to capture CO2 using novel materials is a key research area being explored by the group. The summer undergraduate project will complement one of the ongoing projects being undertaken in the group, and will include working in a wet lab with graduate students to synthesize materials together with learning and using various experimental characterization equipment, such as X-ray diffraction and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy.

application instructions:


1. Applications must be submitted via SAFE.

  • Funding Office: ACEE
  • Activity Type: Undergraduate Internships
  • Opportunity Name: Undergraduate Summer Internships in Energy and the Environment

2. For on-campus internships chosen from the list of available projects, include with the application: a copy of your transcript, a detailed budget of anticipated research materials (this requires speaking with the faculty member whose project you are applying for), and a copy of your resume/CV.

3. For self-initiated, on-campus internships, include with the application: a project description of no more than two pages, a detailed budget of anticipated research materials (this requires speaking with the faculty member whose project you are applying for), a copy of your transcript, and a copy of your resume/CV.

4. For off-campus internships with outside organizations, include with the application: a copy of your transcript, a detailed budget for travel expenses, and a copy of your resume/CV. Applications for internships with outside organizations will be reviewed by the host organization in addition to Princeton faculty and program coordinators in order to determine the most suitable candidates for each position. The host organization may contact the student to arrange a telephone or in-person interview. **Please carefully review the application requirements–some of the off campus opportunities require a writing sample and cover letter.**

5. Be sure to check that your application is submitted and locked before the March 8, 2019 final deadline. Incomplete and/or draft applications will not be considered.

If you have questions about the application process, please contact Moira Selinka, ACEE Education Coordinator, at or 8-8456.